In the art world, a “retrospective” is generally accepted as being a compilation showing the work of a particular artist over a certain period of time. Thousands of retrospectives have been held over the years, from musicians to fine artists to architects. They can also take many forms, whether it be in an exhibition, a book, a website, etc.
With the Michael Bierut Retrospective at SVA’s Chelsea Gallery coming to a close, this month’s Ten Over Ten reflects upon some memorable retrospective exhibits held by some of the most prestigious museums and galleries in the world.
1. “Art Is Work: Milton Glaser Retrospective”—Milton Glaser
The AIGA National Design Center
November 2—December 27, 2000
This show was accompanied by the publication of Milton Glaser’s book of the same name: Art is Work. It is a collection covering the 25 years since the publication of his previous book, Milton Glaser, Graphic Design.
The variety and style of this collection included Glaser’s posters, logos, illustrations, magazine/newspaper designs, interior designs, record albums, typography, watercolors, drawings, prints, books, toys, textiles, jewelry and home furnishings.
The exhibit also displayed some unusual pieces, such as the erotic drawings created for a French edition of Boris Vian’s novels, a set of modular children’s building blocks, and a wood-and-glass sculpture in honor of Glaser’s teacher, Giorgio Morandi (1890–1964).
2. “Jenny Holzer: PROTECT PROTECT”—Jenny Holzer
March 12—May 31, 2009
“Alternating between fact and fiction, the public and the private, the universal and the particular, Holzer’s work offers an incisive social and psychological portrait of our times. PROTECT PROTECT centers on Holzer’s work since the 1990s and is the artist’s most comprehensive exhibition in the United States in more than fifteen years.”
3. “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”—Marina Abramovic
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
March 14—May 31, 2010
This performance retrospective contained approximately fifty pieces of work that reviewed over forty years of Abramovic’s early interventions and sound pieces, videos, installations, photographs, solo and collaborative performances made with Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen).
This exhibition included the first ever live re-performances of Abramovic’s works by other people undertaken in a museum setting. In addition, there was a performance by Abramovic that is now the longest duration of time that she has ever performed a single solo piece.
Abramovic’s work was also installed in The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Gallery on the sixth floor of the MoMA and was accompanied by an illustrated catalogue that included an audio recording that guided the viewer with the artist’s voice.
4. “Damien Hirst: Exhibition”—Damien Hirst
April 4—September 9, 2012
“This is the first substantial survey of his work in a British institution and brings together key works from over twenty years. The exhibition includes iconic sculptures from his Natural History series, including The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991, in which he suspended a shark in formaldehyde. Also included are vitrines such as A Thousand Years from 1990, medicine cabinets, pill cabinets and instrument cabinets in addition to seminal paintings made throughout his career using butterflies and flies as well as spots and spins. The two-part installation In and Out of Love, not shown in its entirety since its creation in 1991 and Pharmacy 1992 are among the highlights of the exhibition.”
5. “Double Portrait: Paula Scher And Seymour Chwast”—Paula Scher and Seymour Chwast
Philadelphia Museum of Art
December 2, 2012—April 14, 2013
This was the first show where this artistic, talented couple had their work shown together.
It included a wide range of formats (i.e. German Expressionist woodcuts, typography, posters, children’s art, logo design, primitive art, folk art, environmental graphics and comic books) selected and installed by Chwast and Scher.
The pieces were cohesively displayed together, balancing the expressiveness of Schwast’s illustrations and Scher’s typography.
6. “Everything Is Design: The Work Of Paul Rand”—Paul Rand
Museum of the City of New York
February 25—October 13, 2015
Everything Is Design: The Work of Paul Rand covers over sixty years of work and features more than 150 advertisements, posters, corporate brochures, and books by this design visionary.
It was organized into five parts; (1) Early Life and Career (2) Transforming Madison Avenue (3) Books and Publications (4) Creating Corporate America (5) Writing and Teaching
7. “Significant Works From 1993 And Onwards”—Ai Weiwei
The Royal Academy of Arts
September 19—December 13, 2015
This exhibition is the first major institutional survey of Ai Weiwei’s collection ever held in the UK and displays over two decades of his extraordinary career (from 1993 onwards, the date that marks his return to China following more than a decade living in New York).
THe audience can view multiple large-scale installations (created with everything from marble and steel to tea and glass) that have been adapted for the RA’s galleries and courtyard.
The Artistic Director and co-curator of the exhibition, Tim Marlow, said: “Ai Weiwei is one of the most important artists in the world today but his work has not been seen anywhere near as much as it should have been in the UK. This exhibition will begin to redress that balance and give an extensive new audience the chance to experience a creative phenomenon that is at once radical, political, architectural, historical, poetic, materially inventive and transformative.”
8. “The (SVA) Masters Series: Michael Bierut”—Michael Bierut
The School of Visual Arts, Chelsea Gallery
October 6—November 7, 2015
“The Masters Series: Michael Bierut” at SVA was the first comprehensive retrospective of Bierut’s work. It showcased iconic logos, graphics and exhibition designs as well as personal pieces.
NY Times Magazine’s Ann Binlot referred to Michael Bierut as “The Man Who Designed Manhattan” when announcing his retrospective.
The show was organized into four parts: (1) Design and the City, (2) The Design Process, (3) How Architecture Can Be Represented on Paper and (4) The Search for Graphic Identity.
Two other major items of note with the exhibition: (1) There was a reception and launch party for his latest book, How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world (Thames & Hudson and Harper Design, 2015).
(2) MFA Design Co-chair Steven Heller interviewed Beirut, which was both live-streamed and live-tweeted.
9. “The World Of Charles And Ray Eames”—Charles And Ray Eames
Barbican Art Gallery
October 21, 2015—February 14, 2016
“From personal letters, photographs, drawings and artwork, to their products, models, multi-media installations and furniture, The World of Charles and Ray Eames includes not only the designs for which they are best known, but provides an insight into the lives of the Eameses, the Eames Office and the breadth of their pioneering work, bringing their ideas and playful spirit to life.”
-Barbican Art Gallery
10. “Frank Stella: A Retrospective”—Frank Stella
October 30, 2015—February 7, 2016
Frank Stella: A Retrospective is jointly organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. It fills the Whitney’s 18,000 square-foot fifth floor gallery with Stella’s work from the mid-1950s to the present.
There are approximately 120 pieces of art on display, including paintings, reliefs, maquettes, sculptures and drawings.
This retrospective features his best-known work alongside rarely seen projects drawn from collections worldwide.
About the Author - Lindsay Reynolds
A graphic designer who is easily influenced by the promise of bacon cheeseburgers, books and typography.